By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
(July 21, 2022) Amy Peck doesn’t see herself as among the Ocean Pines elite.
Sitting under the pavilion at White Horse Park on a pristine Thursday afternoon earlier this month, the former paralegal and retired early childhood teacher described her 1973 “original rancher” home that has aluminum siding “that’s as hard as gold” and talked about how the “poor side” of Ocean Pines needs someone in its corner on the board.
“All of Ocean Pines is not waterfront people with a lot of money,” Peck said. “I tend to understand that we have a lot of people here in the Pines who are on a budget, a lot of young working families. Keeping that HOA fee low is important. It’s critical.”
Peck has been around Ocean Pines for 20 years, mostly as a part-timer before she and her husband made the Pines their year-round residency in 2020. The pair has two grown sons who live in Colorado and North Carolina.
Peck hails from Parkville in Baltimore County. Her education includes a bachelor’s degree in business from the former Villa Julie College, which changed its name to Stevenson University in 2008.
She says what she brings to the table is perspective, having been a part-time resident and now a full-time resident whose family grew up coming to Ocean Pines.
“I was here when my kids were little, so I understand (the perspective of) the young families,” she said. “Now I’m a retiree, so I feel that I have a unique perspective that allows me to look at all of Ocean Pines. Too many people only see it as a retirement community, especially if you look at the makeup of the board, which tends to be older, retired people. So I feel that often, the part-timers and young families are left out of the equation. I make sure not to leave them out.”
Peck focused on the fact that part-timers often don’t know what’s going on in the community and what’s being decided. She advocates for “a la carte amenities” to keep the annual HOA down for people who would not be using the facilities they’re paying for.
“So many people just think, look, let’s include all of the amenities in the rate and it’s like no, you have all these part-timers here who hardly ever get here,” Peck said. “They don’t want trash included in their HOA (fee). They’re looking to be here maybe two weeks a year. This is their investment and I think the board needs to factor those people in, and we don’t.”
It’s no small number of part-timers in the community either, she said, describing the split as roughly half and half.
“We’ve got 8,452 homes and only 1,800 people who are participating. That’s why I was so passionate about electronic voting. We need to get those 7,000 people who are not involved. We’re not doing a good enough job with that.”
In particular, Peck said she’s against a “special assessment” of $600 for three years for the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department’s renovation of the South Side station.
“I can’t sell that,” she said. “There are a lot of homes here that don’t have another $600 to add to their assessment. That’s not going to be an option for people. You have a whole portion of Ocean Pines that says ‘Give me the monthly payment plan. That’s all I can do.’ So I try to be a voice for those people.”
“My main thing is to keep this thing going. It’s better to have a surplus than a deficit. I’ve been here long enough (to see) that we have made terrible, terrible mistakes in the past. We have let buildings fall apart in the past. We have to be smart. We can’t do stuff like that — it’s not fair to the community.”
This week and next week, Bayside Gazette is sitting down with the six candidates for the Ocean Pines Board of Directors election that will be decided next month. To maintain consistency and fairness, all candidates answered the same questions.